The Museum of Natural History is a unified complex comprising 5 museums: the Geological, Paleontological, Zoological, Botanical, and Archaeological.
Museums was established in 1966. It is located in the heart of Kiev, in an antique mansion with expressive and remarkable architecture.
More than 30 thousand specimens which are exhibited in 24 halls occupying 8 thousand square meters illustrate the origin, structure and evolution of the Earth, its plant and animal life, its past and present, the history of the material culture of the tribes and peoples that inhabited the territory of Ukraine. The central place in the museums is occupied by a complex of dioramas: 30 landscape expositions and biogroups.
Approximately 5,000 animals of 4,000 species are exhibited today in Zoological museum. It contains large collections of corals, insects, fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals.
The Zoological Museum is one of the oldest within the complex of the National Museum of natural History. Is was founded in 1919. Nowadays it occupies the entire 3 floor of the Museum complex. The exposition of the Museum is arranged in a long gallery and also in two halls — one hall displays birds and the other — mammals.
The exposition is arranged taxonomically. Its peculiar feature is the landscapes dioramas which introduce to the majority of natural zones of the world. Among the attractive exhibits one should mention a stuffed bison — this exhibit was made more than 200 years ago and is the oldest in the Museum; largest arthropod of the world — giant Japanese crab; the biggest bivalve mollusk — tridacna; giant Chinese salamander(180 cm long); Cuban whistler, whose size is about 1m (a special magnifying lens was installed so that one could easily scrutinize this tiny animal) and a living fossil tuatara — the lizard with the third eye, which has survived only on one of the reserve islands of the New Zealand.
The exhibits introduce the visitors to the material composition of the earth’s crust, the structure, origin and development of our planet, to complicated phenomena and processes that occurred on the surface and in the entrails of the Earth.
The Geological Museum was founded in 1927. The personal collections gathered by famous Ukrainian geologists were brought together to form the basis of the Museum. Since 1967, the geological Museum has been functioning within the national Museum of Natural History.
Today the Museum has over 50.000 specimens of rock, minerals, and fossil flora and fauna. The exposition of the Museum is arranged in 7 halls — «General geological processes», «History of geological development of the territory of Ukraine», «Mineralogy», «Petrography», «Minerals of Ukraine», «Marine geological research», «Monographic paleontological collections».
In 5 spacious halls of the museum are arranged the expositions — «Science of botany in Ukraine», «The main groups of vegetable kingdom», «Cellular structure and morphology of flowering plants», «System and evolution of flowering plants», «Plants in human life», «Nature preservation», «Vegetable kingdom of Ukraine», «Vegetable kingdom of Eurasia», «Vegetable kingdom of the globe».
The Botanical Museum was established in 1921. Until 1966 it was accommodated in the premises of the Institute of Botany, and since then it belongs to the National Museum of Natural History.
The total area of exposition is currently 1.400 square meters. All the elements of the exposition (show-cases, biogroups, composition groups, dioramas) contain the specimens that are three-dimensional, and, hence, very natural looking. Such a quality is attained by using a special method of during plants with conservation of their spatial configuration and morphological parameters. It is here that this method has been applied for the first time in the worldwide practice of Natural History Museums.
The attention-getters of the Botanical Museum are 8 the panoramic three-dimensional dioramas, which reflect the landscape pictures of greenery of the tundra in polar Urals; the original and distinctive beauty of the Badkhyz Reserve (Turkmenistan); the general view of the African savanna at the beginning of the drought season; the shore of a tropical; the shore of a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean with coconut palms and mangrove thicket; the boundless steppes of the Southern Ukraine; the highlands of the Carpathians; and the exotics of the South Coast of the Crimea.
The exposition of the Paleontological Museum illustrates the evolution of life on the Earth — from its origin to the current state.
Paleontological Museum takes its beginning in 1935 when first small paleontological exposition appeared at the Zoological Museum. The collection of fossil materials for this exposition began to be gathered as far back as in 1919, when the Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was established.
The exposition shows successive evolutionary stages of the vegetable and animal organisms, it contains more than 2.000 original specimens — mostly from the territory of Ukraine, while the whole collection of the Museum comprises about 1 million specimens. The Museum demonstrates 106 showcases, 5 dioramas and 2 installations built of the mammoth bones.
Mammalian bones of the Hipparion fauna are among the unique and most valuable specimens of the museum. The well-preserved skeletons of the Neogene and Quaternary mammals, in particular, the elephant Dinotherium, giraffe Khersonotherium, whale Cetotherium, aurochs (primitive bull), mammoth, etc. are among the most interesting items on display. The adornment of the exposition are the imprints of invertebrates, as well as plants, shells, petrified tree-trunks and bits of amber with insects inside them. Among the attractive exhibits one should mention the structures were frameworks of the primitive men dwellings built of the mammoth bones, which were found in the Cherkassy and Chernigiv regions(in the villages of Mezhyruch and Mizyn).
The Archaeological Museum was founded in 1966. More than 7.000 original objects, which characterize the basic stages in the history of mankind(the Stone Age, the Eneolithic Bronze Age, the early Iron Age and the Middle Ages), are exposed in four halls of the Museum with the total area of 500 square meters.
For the most part, the Museum exhibits are unique historical and artistic objects. These are the tools of our ancestors from the Koroleve site in Transcarpathia which is more than 800 thousand years old; a set of ornamented mammoth bones of the Upper Paleolithic from the Mizyn site (nearly 15 thousand years ago) interpreted as ancient musical instruments, as well as an impressive collection of objects of the Trypillya culture, the culture of the first land tillers and cattle-graziers on the territory of Ukraine(ceramics, earthen artifacts, household stuff, etc.).
The materials from the archaeological excavations of burial mounds and settlements present the Bronze Age that witnessed an intensive development of non-ferrous metallurgy. The objects include ceramics, bony and bronze ornaments, arms, and ritual articles, in particular, a modeled scull.
The materials of the exposition «The Early Iron Age» cover the history of the population of Ukraine from the early 1st millennium B.C. till the first centuries A. D. Here the visitors can familiarize with the relics of the Cimmerian, Scythian and Sarmatian cultures. An interesting page in the history of Ukraine is linked with the ancient Greek colonization of the North Coast of the Black Sea, with the appearance of antique city-states there. This period is illustrated with the materials from a Hellenic settlement on the Berezan Isle, city-states of Tira and Olbia.
The section of the Museum desiccated to the history of ancient Slavs and Kievan Rus displays materials from the settlements and burial grounds of old Slavic and neighboring tribes. The exposition is supplemented with numerous reconstruction installations, models, and unique dioramas such as «Burial of o Noble Scythian», «Ancient Settlement of Chuchyn», and «Kiev of the 10th century. The Town of Vladimir the Great».
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